A few weeks ago, I had to make a visit to the Emergency Room. What a treat that was! Here is how it all began…
I woke up with severe pain underneath my left shoulder blade that wrapped around to the left side of my chest. At times, I could not even move. It also hurt to breathe deeply. The day before, my friend, Jennifer, had just sent me an article about back pain and heart attacks. Naturally, this made me very nervous, and I was afraid I might be having another heart attack, especially with the painful breaths, which reminded me of the day of my heart attack. I could not get comfortable to make the back pain go away, so I called my cardiologist nurse. She did not think it was cardiac-related, and suggested I called my PCP, which I did. There were no appointments available to allow me to be seen that day, so the receptionist transferred me to a nurse who suggested (due to my history) that I go to the ER. My concern was that I might have pneumonia if it wasn’t a heart attack because I had a sore throat for a few days prior. The nurse was also concerned about that.
So, I got dressed into another pair of pajamas and called my mom to have her drive me to the ER. Thank goodness that there is a hospital less than a mile from my house, so I figured I would try that ER since it was so close. I’m not going to mention the hospital name at this time, but I do NOT plan on using that hospital ER ever again!!!!
I arrived around 3pm and was told there would be a 2 hour wait just to see a triage nurse. There were signs all over the check-in desks that said if you were having chest pain to let them know and not fill out the paperwork. I let them know that I was having pain in my left chest and pointed to the site of the pain. The unfriendly check-in lady said that was not my chest, it was my ribs. (OH, EXCUSE ME, I THOUGHT MY RIBS WERE IN MY CHEST CAVITY). I also let her know that I was a heart attack patient. She did not seem to care unless I was having “chest” pain. What I thought was so crazy about this “chest” pain thing and how adamant they were about it is that most women do NOT have chest pain when they are having a heart attack. I didn’t. I had arm pain. I was in too much pain to argue or talk back to them at that time, but it really made no sense. So I imagine that most of their female heart attack patients do not fare well because they come in with non-chest pain and are made to wait for hours in the ER waiting room while men fare better because they have chest pain and are treated immediately?? I’d love to see the statistics in that hospital.
Anyway, I had to wait over 2 hours to see a triage nurse. She seemed concerned about my pain and the fact that I was a heart attack patient, and within a few minutes, I was in the ER in a bed being seen by a doctor who was also very concerned. DUH! I explained everything about my pain and everything about my heart attack. He took me very seriously and was going to do a full cardiac workup on me along with a chest X-ray (to check for pneumonia) and a CT scan of my abdomen (to check my kidneys).
All-in-all, I spent about 5 hours in the ER (from the time I arrived). My chest X-ray did not show any pneumonia, but it did show bronchial cuffing (which the dr did not discuss with me, I just noticed on my report after leaving). The bronchial cuffing on the report said it could be caused by bronchitis, but I didn’t have a cough or bronchitis. I googled it, and it can also be caused by acute pulmonary edema (which I had during my heart attack) and CHF. It’s something I need to add to my list to ask my cardiologist about because he said that I did not have any lung damage as a result of the acute pulmonary edema. I’m not sure if cuffing is considered “damage”.
My CT scan did not show anything wrong with my kidneys (no kidney stones), but I noticed on the report that I have a 4.4cm hemangioma on my liver. The dr did not mention this, but my GI dr saw this on a CT scan that he ordered on me a few weeks earlier and said it was nothing to worry about. Of course, I will worry about it a little later. The GI dr said he would do another CT scan in 6 months if I wanted one, so I will take him up on that in 6 months just to be sure…based on my luck lately.
My cardiac workup was abnormal, but I told the dr that my EKG is abnormal now and has inverted T waves. He said that is what his showed, too, and that my heart was ischemic.
So, he said to make sure I took the reports to my dr to have him look over everything to ensure they were “normal” for me, which they were when I went to my next cardiologist appointment.
Thank goodness nothing was wrong, and the fact that I went to the ER and was thoroughly checked out made me feel SO much better. The dr prescribed me some pain medicine, and I already had an appointment with my GI dr a couple days later where we discussed GI issues that I’d been having.
I will say that next time I have an emergency (and am able to be driven to the ER), I will go the few extra miles to go to another hospital or drive even more miles to get to an Orlando Health hospital.